According to WHO estimates, more than 180 million people worldwide have diabetes. And this number is likely to be doubled by 2030. Type 1 diabetes which mostly affects young population, is growing at an alarming rate of 3% each year. Like Diabetes affecting male fertility, it has been found to have a strong connection with female infertility. Having said that, there are many women with diabetes who are able to conceive, particularly who manage their diabetes, body weight and lifestyle well. As with male infertility, diabetes does not have a direct link with infertility however certain conditions which are caused by diabetes affect fertility and the ability to conceive.
The following conditions are associated with reduced fertility rates:
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS have elevated hormones (androgens) in their body that may affect their overall health and appearance. PCOS is generally associated with Obesity and Diabetes.
PCOS mainly affects the menstrual cycles either making it irregular or stopping it. All these affects fertility.
Oligomenorrhea is a condition where a woman has irregular periods, that is she regularly goes without menstruating for more than 35 days.
Secondary amenorrhea is when you had at least one menstrual period and then you suddenly stop menstruating for three months or longer.
Both Oligomenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea are found to be conditions related to diabetes, obesity and being underweight. Both are major causes of fertility issues.
In many cases, it has been found that women with diabetes are able to conceive however they find it difficult to stay pregnant. A woman with higher than normal glucose levels does get pregnant month after month however diabetic condition prevents the embryo from implanting in the uterus causing recurring miscarriages.
When menopause (time when periods stop) occurs before the age of 40, it is referred to as premature menopause. Researchers estimate that type 1 diabetes is associated with greater risk of having premature menopause which in turn causes fertility problems.
Menarche is the first occurrence of period. Menarche delay has been reported in adolescent females with type 1 diabetes.
Women who got Type 1 diabetes because of body’s autoimmune response are prone to get other disorders like thyroid disease or autoimmune premature ovarian failure both of which play a role in getting pregnant. Like the cause of type 1 diabetes, the body’s cells might wrongly attack the the healthy cells that maintain thyroid hormones or ovarian function.
The heightened levels of glucose in women with diabetes causes damage to the embryonic cells leading to an increased risk of birth defects
Women with diabetes have an increased risk of getting gestational diabetes which may cause health concerns for the mother and baby.
Endometrial Cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the uterus. Endometrial cancer is comparatively common in women with diabetes. Endometrial cancer is commonly seen in women who have never become pregnant and can be associated with co-existing ovarian cancer.
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